Apr 292016
 
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Darian Thompson, Boise State Broncos (January 30, 2016)

Darian Thompson – © USA TODAY Sports Images

With the eighth pick in the third round of the 2016 NFL Draft, the New York Giants selected safety Darian Thompson from Boise State University.

SCOUTING REPORT: The 6’2”, 208-pound Thompson is a big, physical safety who lacks ideal overall athleticism and speed. Big hitter and aggressive in run support. He is an intelligent, disciplined, instinctive center-fielder against the pass who makes plays on the football (19 career interceptions). Plays faster than he times – smooth with no wasted motion. Hard working and competitive. Team leader.

MEDIA Q&A WITH GENERAL MANAGER JERRY REESE: (Video)

Reese: Darian Thompson, free safety, Boise State. Big kid, center fielder, checks a lot of boxes for us. We really like how he makes plays on the football. We think he’s a solid tackler back there. Makes the calls. Captain. High test score. A lot of things to like about him. Any questions?

Q: Was Darian once again at the top of your board?

A: There were a couple of guys we talked about right here with this pick…a couple guys.

Q: Did you like him because how he would team up with Landon Collins?

A: Well, we think he’s a free safety. He makes the calls back there for his team, he’s a ball hawk back there. We think he’s going to create a lot of competition in the secondary at that safety position. Looking forward to getting him in here.

Q: Does he free up Landon though to come down to the box?

A: Well, that’s up to the coaches…that’s up to Ben (McAdoo) and Steve (Spagnuolo), whatever they want to do with him. I think his skillset is a free safety skillset. I do think he’s a tough tackler, can come down in the box. I think he’s interchangeable. I think he’s one of those safeties that can do both.

Q: You don’t seem like you have a lot of guys on the roster with that kind of productivity as far as the interceptions, the guy gets the ball. Do you see that translating to the next level?

A: Well, we sure hope so. Never translate until you get them out there and they have to do it. But we sure think he has a skillset to do that. Again, he checks a lot of boxes for us.

Q: You said there were a couple guys in this one…what was it about him that sort of pushed him over the top?

A: It was just the guys we have there…we thought where we are right now and the skillset we’re looking for, we thought he had the best skillset at this point.

Q: Now that this round is done and your top three players are in the books, will you go into tomorrow—I hate to say it—just looking for the best available player?

A: We’re always looking for value and need…we’re always trying to couple those two things together. We try our best to get that.

Q: Does “need” mean you’ll be looking for an offensive lineman?

A: We’re going to look for the best player. We’re going to try to couple value with need.

Q: Do you feel like you have to get an offensive lineman with one of those last three picks, maybe not in one specific one, but you’d like one of those three picks to come away with that position?

A: No, we just feel like we can try to get a value pick and a need pick as well. Whatever we think the value is and what we think the need is, we can try to couple those things together.

Q: What are the chances of you guys making some sort of trade to earn yourselves another pick tonight?

A: We’ll keep all our options open.

Q: Have you had many phone calls tonight?

A: We’ve made phone calls, we’ve taken phone calls, yeah.

Q: Were you close to a trade before the second round pick?

A: I don’t think we were close to a trade. I can’t remember that far back.

MEDIA Q&A WITH VICE PRESIDENT OF PLAYER EVALUATION MARC ROSS: (Video)

Q: Did you see Darian Thompson in person?

A: I saw him in practice in the Senior Bowl and in the Combine.

Q: What makes him different from the other guys you have that are going to compete for that free safety spot.

A: We have a nice mix of guys who all have something different. Nat’s a box guy and real competitive. Mykkele’s a free range guy. This guy’s a free safety who can also play strong. He plays that way there. He has good ball skills, feel for the game, competitiveness and size. So they all give you something different.

Q: Do you project how he will play and how he will play off of Landon?

A: Sure. What we like is that this guy has played strong safety and the linebacker position, so they move him all around. His versatility definitely was intriguing.

Q: When it comes down to final two guys at the end, for you, what was the determining factor?

A: When you talk them through, you try to highlight the positives. And it comes down to who has the most positives in their profile on and off the field.

Q: I’m not sure of the history of all the other safeties, but this guy has more interceptions than any of them.

A: Yes, he has a ton of them, more than a lot of guys who have played.

Q: You talked yesterday about interceptions being a random statistic. What makes this guy different?

A: This guy’s a ball hawk. His instincts are what separates. He can anticipate where a route is, where a ball is going and he jumps on it. And that’s what distinguishes him with making interceptions.

Q: How is he in coverage in general?

A: You don’t want him covering quick slot guys. He’s better in zone using the field. He’s got some range, so that’s the optimal way to use him.

Q: Is it hard to rate him because she’s not a big conference guy?

A: Boise State is a big time program. They’re a different mid-major. They’re big time, so they’ve had players, first round picks, the whole deal. They’re up there with all of the other upper echelon teams.

Q: Was there anything that was different about how these two days unfolded, compared to the past?

A: No. Get up there, stack em up, talk about em and pick em. There’s nothing out of the ordinary.

Q: He was used as a linebacker in college?

A: Well, not a real linebacker, but nowadays because so many teams play spread, they’ll put their safeties down in maybe a rover or a spur – every team calls it something different, so they used him in that kind of role. It’s not a true linebacker position. It’s just a hybrid safety/linebacker role.

Q: Can you see him doing that in the NFL?

A: Sure.

MEDIA Q&A WITH HEAD COACH BEN MCADOO: (Video)

McAdoo: Darian Thompson, another good, smart player from a winning program, fortunate to have him, excited for him to get here.

Q: When you see 19 career interceptions, that must make your eyes light up a little?

A: Yeah, he is very instinctive. He has tremendous ball skills, but the instincts and the twitch make it happen for him.

Q: Is there a flip side to that? Sometimes a ball-hawking safety can be a gambling safety. Does he gamble sometimes?

A: I think it is more of instincts. He may have a little bit of a gambler in him, but I think it is more off of instincts.

Q: What is your role here with guys in the middle rounds? How much have you conversed with them?

A: It is more off of film study with Darian. I studied Darian on a couple different occasions with some film off of a point of attack tape and off of game film and he is someone that jumped out at me. High character guy, good ball skills, he can tackle in the open field and he plays in a variety of roles. He can play back in the post, he can play back in split safety looks and he can play down in the slot — he did that a lot in their fire zones.

Q: Jerry talked about there being a couple guys there with this pick. What differentiated Darian from those other picks?

A: Well, we had a cluster of guys there we were looking at. To me, the instincts, the twitch, very smart player, high character guy, fits what we are looking for that way and the ability to get the ball back to the offense and change the game that way. The game is about the ball and he can get the offense the ball.

Q: Are you hoping that if his skillset translates quickly enough that you can move Landon Collins more to strong safety?

A: We need to get them both in here and look at them. I think Landon had a nice camp this week. [He] did some nice things back deep and we feel that he is growing and doing a nice job there improving and I don’t think you can say always and never in this business.

Q: Is this any type of statement about the other guys you have at safety?

A: Oh, we have a lot of young guys in the safety mix and quite frankly, we haven’t seen them. They have been nicked up. They basically had a medical redshirt type year last year and it is good to get them back out there, they are working to get back out and get back out 100% so we are chomping at the bit to look at those guys and Darian is a guy we are going to throw into the mix and let them all compete.

Q: When you say he has a twitch, what do you mean?

A: He can stick his foot in the ground and go zero to sixty real quick.

Q: We saw Mykkele Thompson playing in the slot the other day. How much of that is planned for him and how much of that is because you guys are short on corners?

A: Probably a combination of both. We are going to look at guys in a variety of different roles. Mykklele is a guy who has played corner and has played safety and it is always nice to have some flexibility and versatility there.

Q: Is Darian as big as you are going to want him?

A: I think he is a pretty good size right now but I think that when they get here and they obviously have training table where they are coming from at Boise, but when they have a chance to get a little bit of money in their pocket and eat properly, their body composition usually changes a little bit.

Q: Can you use him perhaps as a surprise pass rusher?

A: We are going look at him in a variety of roles right there. I am not going to give you the keys to the kingdom as far as how he is going to show up on game day, but yeah, he is a versatile guy.

MEDIA Q&A WITH DARIAN THOMPSON:

Q: Darian, congratulations.

A: I appreciate that, thank you very much. I’m extremely blessed and excited to get out there and get to work.

Q: Are you at home right now?

A: I am, I’m in California—a little ways away, but I’m ready…I’m ready to make that trip.

Q: Where were you when you found out that you had been selected?

A: I’m back at home in Lancaster, California in the backyard at my girlfriend’s just wondering when the phone call was going to come through, and it happened. It’s truly a blessing and I’m extremely excited about it.

Q: How often did you meet with the Giants prior to tonight?

A: A couple of times, not too often. Not too often, but a couple of times. When I did, it went well. I’m excited that they pulled the trigger on me. I’m sure that they’re excited as well.

Q: If you had to summarize your skillset, what makes you unique from other candidates?

A: First of all, I’m an extremely smart football player. I know how to study film and diagnose plays and put myself in the right spot in order to make plays and make turnovers. I think that’s what I do best. I have a knack for the football, and I feel like an interception is just as much as a touchdown, so that’s what I’m going after.

Q: They used you in a lot of different ways when you were in college. Did you have a specific niche, if you will, out of all the things they asked you to do that you really liked?

A: No, not specific things that I liked. I honestly just like being out there on the field, being able to compete and have fun with the game that I love. So there’s no one thing that I liked over another, just being out there is perfectly fine with me.

Q: A lot of times when somebody gets picked, there’s maybe a veteran starter or somebody who’s already entrenched in that job. It seems like at this point it’s pretty wide open for you. What are your thoughts coming into this season and into camp once you get here?

A: Like I said, I’m extremely blessed to be there. When I get in there, have my best foot forward and just continue to work. I believe I have a great work ethic and nothing’s going to change from that, so whatever happens when I get there, it just happens. I’m excited; I’m going to give it all I have and see what happens when I get out there.

Q: Was that depth chart something that you noticed when the Giants called or when you were thinking about one of 32 landing spots?

A: It kind of didn’t really matter…because I know the type of player that I am. I know that I’m going to come in there and I’m going to work, regardless of whether there’s a veteran in front of me or not. I know I’ll be able to contribute to the team in multiple ways, so I was happy with that.

Q: Have you had a chance to watch the Giants in recent years?

A: I have had a chance to watch the Giants, and they’re always a good football team. To be able to get out there and play with some of those guys that we see all the time on TV and commercials and things like that, and to be a part of the team and to help them achieve their goal of winning the Super Bowl, is just awesome to me.

Q: You were at what is arguably the most renowned mid-major team in the country at Boise State. Can you talk about what it was like being with that team with the national spotlight on you guys? Can you talk about what is probably the biggest lesson you learned in your years with the Broncos?

A: Yeah, Boise State is a great program. Everybody on that team has a chip on their shoulder because they weren’t picked or chosen to go to a bigger school, so everybody has an attitude and everybody has a chip on their shoulder like I was talking about. I still have that chip. Regardless of where I would have gone tonight, or tomorrow, or whenever it would have been, I would have that chip. I’m just excited to bring it to New York. I’m excited to bring it to the Giants and to see what happens from there.

Q: How surprised were you that this ended up being the landing spot?

A: I was pretty surprised. Pretty surprised…and I’m happy. This is the one place I thought before the draft that I could end up, and I’m happy that it happened to be there.

Q: Why’d you think that?

A: Just agent talk and things of that sort. They say, “Maybe this, maybe that.” Nothing’s ever set in stone, and as we see, the draft can go in all different types of ways. I’m happy where I am now, I couldn’t be more excited. Like I said earlier, I’m just ready to get to work.

Apr 292016
 
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Sterling Shepard, Oklahoma Sooners (November 21, 2015)

Sterling Shepard – © USA TODAY Sports Images

With the ninth pick in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft, the New York Giants selected wide receiver Sterling Shepard from the University of Oklahoma.

SCOUTING REPORT: The 5’10”, 194-pound Shepard may lack ideal size, but he was arguably the best slot wide receiver available in the draft. Shepard is a very strong, extremely quick, and super-productive receiver with good speed. He plays bigger than his size due to his strength and excellent leaping ability. Shepard is an excellent route runner who knows how to get open. Sudden and creates separation. He is tough, fearless, and super-competitive. He attacks the football and has excellent hands. Runs well after the catch. Shepard has an outstanding work ethic and plays with a chip on his shoulder. He has experience returning punts.

MEDIA Q&A WITH GENERAL MANAGER JERRY REESE: (Video)

Reese: Sterling Shepard, wide receiver, Oklahoma. Slot receiver. Has some return specialist to him. Terrific competitor. Just everything you want in a slot wide receiver. Our coaches believe he can play on the outside as well. The highest player on our board. I know you guys think I’m kidding when I say that, but highest player on our board, and an easy pick for us. Had a couple more names around that we liked as well, but it was too much value for us to pass this guy up. We think he’s going to come in and he’s NFL-ready —ready to play right now. He’ll be right in our receiver corps, and get a lot of competition in there, we hope. Any questions?

Q: Is he a little bit like a young Victor Cruz?

A: Yeah, some of scouts—that name came up when our scout group talked about him. That’s one of the names that came up, a young Victor Cruz. Very similar in some ways, body type. The one thing about this kid is he’s 5’10 and some change, but his strike zone—what we call a strike zone—is bigger than that. He’s got a 41-inch vertical jump, he’s got big hands…he’s a tenacious slot receiver, run after the catch. Get the ball to him quick and he does some nice things after that catch as well. Yeah, Victor Cruz was one of the names that came up.

Q: Does that worry you at all? Is that anything you guys even think about? Obviously Victor is a smaller guy, Odell plays bigger but under six foot, now a third guy under six foot.

A: You’d like to have all of them 6’5 that run 4.4 and all that, but it’s just not the way it is all the time. I think that there’s a lot of tall receivers in the Hall of Fame that probably never even played in a Super Bowl, if you look at that history. We think he’s plenty tall enough, and we think he’s a terrific young receiver.

Q: You said he’s NFL-ready…what are some of the things he has picked up to be able to play?

A: He plays in the slot…he’s just crafty and knows how to get open in his routes. He has the quickness, the explosion in his route, the run after the catch, and the toughness to go over the middle, those kinds of things. Good bloodline, too; he’s been around football all his life.

MEDIA Q&A WITH VICE PRESIDENT OF PLAYER EVALUATION MARC ROSS: (Video)

Q: What did you like about Sterling Shepard as a player that drew you to him?

A: He’s a guy that you go to Oklahoma, especially over the last few years – you go to certain schools and there are young guys, and you think ‘Who is that guy?’ He’s been that guy at Oklahoma because he’s always made plays. He’s quick, athletic, competitive and savvy. He’s has been a playmaker for them since the time he stepped on campus.

Q: Does his height matter to you and how much do you take that into consideration?

A: You like 6’5”, 200 pounds and run a 4.4 and all that, but this guy overcomes his lack of height with his other skills. He’s got a 41-inch vertical. He’s competitive to the ball. His catch radius is bigger – he plays bigger than his actual size. His catch radius is where he can go up and get the ball. So short receivers who play small are our concern. Short receivers who play big are not a concern.

Q: On tape he looks very tough, like he could break a tackle. Do you see that as well?

A: He’s very tough. That’s the knock on the little guys. They’re tough, but can they play big? He does both. He is very tough. He’ll go inside with no fear, catch the ball, take the hit, make guys miss and keep going.

Q: Do you think his lack of height kept him out of the first round?

A: Maybe, it might have been a factor.

Q: He’s not a skinny guy, right?

A: He’s rocked up. He’s not a frail, short guy. He’s thick and muscled up.

Q: Is he the type of guy to run the entire route tree?

A: Yes, he runs it all. The offense they run at Oklahoma, he runs all the routes, unlike some other college systems where they run up the field and turn around. This guy runs an NFL route tree.

Q: Everyone is saying he’s a young Victor Cruz, who wasn’t drafted. Do you see that?

A: It’s been thrown around. It’s been in our meetings. The comparison has come up. The stature, the quickness, the toughs, the ‘make you miss’ – those things are very similar. But I never like to say guys are the next somebody or compare them like that. But I can definitely see why the comparisons are made.

Q: You said that Shepard was the one you wanted. Were the first eight who went ahead of him not as important to you as he was?

A: All of the players are important. We stacked the board the way we like the guys and the way we think they’re going to fall. Obviously the first round is kind of predictable. The second round is predictable. But once you start getting into the third round, it just goes all over the place. But we stack our guys and say: first round, we like this group of guys, second round we like this guy. But coming into today, this was a guy we really liked to get.

Q: What does it say about how the league has changed, when your first two picks are nickel corner back and slot receiver?

A: It’s basketball on grass. Guys throw the ball. You need athletes getting in space. You still need to block. You’ve got to protect. But the more athletes you have out there, the better. It’s not ground and pound anymore. We throw the ball and a lot of teams do that.

Q: Was Shepard the top-rated receiver you had on your board since the start of the draft?

A: Probably not.

Q: Was this a guy you had your eye on prior to this year’s draft process?

A: Yes. He’s a senior, which is rare. You never see a top player stay for all four years. He had a nice body of work, as opposed to a junior who does one year and comes out of nowhere. This guy has done it for a few years. So when you go to Oklahoma, you always hear about Sterling Shepard – the guy who makes plays.

Q: Do you wait for positioning as you move along in the draft to get a specific position player?

A: We always try to match the need and the value, so hopefully we have a group of guys of equal value and need. We’ll take those guys.

Q: Did someone from the scouting department see all of Oklahoma’s games last season? Either in person or on film?

A: Yes, throughout our process, we had three scouts that go there. We break it down to early, middle and late, where our scouts go in and watch film that particular time of year. I immerse myself in the tape; Jerry, the receivers coach, as well.  We’ve pretty much seen anything this guy has done.

Q: Was there any particular game that made him pop out?

A: The Tennessee game. That’s a quintessential game if you want to see what he’s all about. They were down and he’s making big touchdowns at the end to win the game.

Q: How instrumental was Ben McAdoo in the process given he’s an offensive coach?

A: No more than any other one. He was instrumental in that he liked him, which makes it good.

Q: Do you see Shepard augmenting or helping a guy like Odell Beckham Jr. go to another level?

A: I hope so. The more playmakers you have around a guy like Odell, the better. You want to double Odell, this guy will kill you. If he’s healthy, that’s a nice scenario for us.

Q: Is the goal of the draft to find a guy to complement Odell?

A: We definitely had our eye on the receiver position.

Q: Does it concern you that a guy you had your eye on has a big Senior Bowl week?

A: Without a doubt. That’s happened in the past, where we think we had a guy who wasn’t as highly rated as you think he is and then he blows up at the combine or the Senior Bowl. Then everyone jumps on him.

Q: Do you hope that doesn’t happen when you have a guy you like?

A: Yes, for sure, especially the combine. You like a guy, then he blows it out and becomes a combine superstar. Then it’s over with for you.

MEDIA Q&A WITH HEAD COACH BEN MCADOO: (Video)

McAdoo: Hope is everyone is well tonight. We got a great pick tonight, Sterling Shepard, tremendous young man, high character, plays the game the right way, plays the game the way it should be played, feisty player, can separate both inside and outside, strong hands, he’ll block you and we’re fortunate to have him, fortunate that he was on the board when he was.

Q: Is there a little Victor Cruz in him?

A: There are times when you see him make some moves inside where you see that strength and that explosiveness that Victor has, yes, but they are different players.

Q: Is he a classic example of a player who plays bigger than his size?

A: Absolutely. He has a bigger catch radius than someone who is 5’10. He has big hands, so he is not afraid to reach out and pluck it away from his body and he is very confident after the catch.

Q: Does he remind you of anyone who has played or currently plays in the NFL?

A: There are some similarities between he and Victor [Cruz]. There are some similarities that I have seen with some of the guys I have coached in the past in Green Bay. He is a high character guy and when you take a look, there may be a little Randall Cobb in him, you see that. He will reach back and pluck the ball the way James Jones did a little bit in Green Bay in the past, so he has that in him; strong, confident hands as far as being a hands catcher but there are some guys out there that he reminds you of.

Q: Is he mostly a slot guy?

A: No, he is like the rest of the guys we have. You look at Odell, he can play inside and outside and Victor can play inside and outside, as well, and Sterling is no different that way. He has been productive in the past on the outside, this year he played more on the inside but they need to be flexible that way and they are definitely bright enough to do that and he certainly fits that role for us.

Q: Is it mandatory for him to contribute as a rookie being a 2nd round pick?

A: Well, he is going to get an opportunity to compete just like everybody else and the cream will rise to the top there.

Q: You obviously mentioned Cruz and Odell. Can you see those three on the field at the same time?

A: Yeah, absolutely. We play a lot of receivers and we like to use a lot of different guys there. Dwayne Harris factors there as well. He had a nice year. Geremy Davis is coming along, Myles [White] has done some good things for us and there are a lot of guys who are in the mix as far as that goes and the more the merrier, the better the competition.

Q: Does it make it harder for teams to match up when you have three guys who can play all of the positions?

A: It gives you more flexibility. Obviously, Odell is a difference-maker and Odell is a guy that is going to play inside and outside, he is going to be on the single side, he is going to be to the three-receiver side, he is going to be in the backfield, he is going to be a little bit of everywhere, so the other positions have to have flexibility.

Q: How important was it for you to get a compliment to Odell in this draft?

A: We had the minicamp last week. We have confidence in the guys that are already in the locker room and we expect that they will continue to push each other. They are certainly not going to make it easy on Sterling and that is how we want it, we want competition in that room.

Q: You would have been alright going at it with what you had if the draft had unfolded that way?

A: Absolutely.

Q: What do you find are some of the toughest things receivers have to pick up and learn as they come into the NFL?

A: Well, I think the offenses are different from where they are coming from. He has been maybe in a little bit more of a pro style type offense than some that we see. There will certainly be a little bit of a learning curve for him so that is probably the number one adjustment. We are a little bit different than maybe most because we will spend a lot of time in the no-huddle, so that may help him with the learning curve a little bit. The defenses that he is going to see. He is going to see a lot of big, physical, gifted athletes playing the corner spot. That will be a big adjustment for any receiver coming into the league.

Q: Sterling had some experience at Oklahoma on punt return. Do you envision him fulfilling that role in New York?

A: We will certainly add him to the mix there. He will be a guy that is going to get some opportunities there, yes.

Q: What are you looking to get out of your final four selections?

A: The highest guy on the board.

Q: You said the no-huddle with help him a little bit?

A: Yeah, I think it streamlines things as far as the information that they get and how they get it. It is a little more visual than it is verbal and some guys learn a little easier that way.

Q: He made a big jump between 2014 and 2015. Is there anything that you saw on film with that? Maybe a better quarterback?

A: I think the natural maturation of a young player and their quarterback play was better this year. That is a good point.

Q: How is he as a blocker?

A: He gets after you. I like that. He is a complete player. He is not a finesse guy by any stretch of the imagination.

MEDIA Q&A WITH STERLING SHEPARD:

Q: When you found out you were drafted by the Giants, how much did you think about playing with Odell Beckham Jr?

A: I mean that’s one of the guys I look at. I look at (Beckham’s) game every week and I try to pattern my game after him. I was excited to be able to get drafted by the New York Giants and be able to play alongside him, as well as Victor Cruz—another guy that I look at, too. I’m excited.

Q: Odell Beckham recently tweeted out that the Giants got themselves a good receiver or something like that. How does that make you feel to get the Odell Beckham Jr seal of approval?

A: That’s always good. He’s now a teammate so I’m excited to be alongside of him, like I said. To have his approval is great, it’s a great feeling.

Q: How much contact did you have with the New York Giants coming into tonight? Did they talk to you at all at the Combine at all? Did you interview with them?

A: No, that’s the funny part. I hadn’t talked to them very much at all. I went to the Combine, I went to the Senior Bowl and I hadn’t talked to them at all. I think I may have filled out a questionnaire, but that was about it.

Q: You had some good times over at Oklahoma…you had one of college football’s best coaches, Bob Stoops, helping you out down there. How did it feel to play at such an elite program, a program that was nationally recognized and made the college football playoff? How did the experience at Oklahoma prepare you for the NFL?

A: It’s a huge program, and it comes along with a lot of history. A lot of the guys that came before you that made a name for that program, so it was an honor to play there. I got to play after my father and wear the same number as him. It was an honor to put that jersey on every week and go out and give them my all. I loved it, I loved my experience at Oklahoma.

Q: A lot of people here with the Giants know Victor Cruz very well and say you remind them a lot of him. Do you see some of that?

A: Yeah. Like I said, that’s one of the guys that I look at a lot. Victor Cruz is a great receiver…we’re kind of the same size, same stature. I definitely look up to that guy. I can see some similarities.

Q: Do you consider yourself a slot receiver or do you think you’re a guy who can play on the outside? What would you call yourself?

A: Honestly, I play so big, I don’t limit myself to just the inside. A lot of people think that that’s all I can do is play inside just because of my size, but I think guys like Odell and Victor have proven that that’s not the case. I’m definitely one of those guys that can be bounced around and move all around.

Q: Is that something that motivates you — that people look at your size and pigeon hole you as just a slot receiver?

A: Yeah, man. I listen to it and I take it in and move on because I know what I can do. Just gives me a little bit more fire.

Q: Do you know Odell? Do you have any relationship with him? Have you ever met him?

A: No…I mean we have some mutual friends—Kenny Stills—those guys know each other. But no, I’ve never met him or anything like that.

Q: What do you anticipate with that when you do get to meet him?

A: It’s going to be like we’re going straight to work. Everybody is ready to work. I feel like we’ll click when I get there.

Q: In what ways do you feel like you benefitted from going all the way through your senior year as a player and a student-athlete?

A: One, I got my degree…that’s one of the things I’ve always wanted to accomplish since I was a little kid, is graduating from Oklahoma, so I was able to accomplish that. Then I got to mature just as a young man. I got to accomplish those two things. As a player, I got to get bigger and stronger and faster. Coach Smitty does a great job with the weight program and the conditioning, so I just developed.

Apr 282016
 
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Eli Apple, New York Giants (April 28, 2016)

Eli Apple – © USA TODAY Sports Images

With the tenth pick in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft, the New York Giants selected 6’1”, 199-pound cornerback Eli Apple from Ohio State University.

SCOUTING REPORT: Third-year sophomore who turns 21 in August. Apple started 27-of-28 games for the Buckeyes. Apple combines good size with excellent overall athletic ability, speed, and quickness. He has the physical tools and plays a physical game. He demonstrates very good aggressive man coverage skills and makes plays on the football (22 pass defenses the past two seasons). However, Apple needs to improve his overall coverage technique and reading routes. Apple makes a lot contact with receivers in coverage, drawing flags. He has a big upside.

MEDIA Q&A WITH GENERAL MANAGER JERRY REESE: (Video)

Reese: Eli Apple, cornerback, Ohio State. A really good, young player. Height, weight, speed. Big school. Only 20 years old. Has all the tools. He holds all the tools to be a starter. He was the highest graded player on our board, beyond the guys with issues. I’ll take any questions about Eli.

Q: Did you take Tunsil off your board after the video?

A: I’m not talking about that. I’m not talking about who’s on our board, who’s off our board.

Q: How surprising was it the way this played out?

A: We’ve got scouts who did a nice job with our board and the board came off very similar…the names came off very similar to how we had them stacked up.

Q: Was trading down ever a possibility?

A: I don’t know if it was ever a possibility. We got a call, we didn’t like it, and we stayed where we were.

Q: Was there ever a possibility to trade up?

A: Was there ever a possibility to trade up? There’s always a possibility to trade up if you want to pay the price to trade up. Yeah, there’s always a possibility to do that.

Q: Was the price too high?

A: Yeah, absolutely the price was too high.

Q: Were you concerned going in that the Titans and Bears might do what they did?

A: You never know what people are going to do during the draft. We knew there were going to be nine picks in front of us. People say they knew or thought something was going to happen in front of us, you don’t know that, nobody knows until the name is turned in. We’re very happy to have this player, this is a good player. He’s a terrific young player, and it’s a need pick. It’s a value pick where we had him ranked, and it’s absolutely a need pick. Look out there and see our corner depth, you guys can see that.

Q: You mentioned big school…does that upgrade a prospect?

A: You like to get kids who’ve played in big time programs. It’s not the end all, but kids that come from big programs are usually more ready to jump in and play at this level.

Q: Can he play in the slot? Is that something you envision?

A: I think he can play all over. He is big, he’s over six foot. He’s a 200 pounder, ran 4.4. He can play somewhere back there for us.

Q: Do you envision him starting immediately?

A: Everybody has to come in and earn their spot for the New York Giants, but we think he has starter caliber tools.

Q: Do you look at him as only a cornerback or do you think he’s a guy who can play safety?

A: No, he’s a corner.

Q: Did you have to alter your board at the last minute here today?

A: I tell you guys every year…every year during the draft, something funny happens. It’s no different this year.

Q: I know you don’t want to speak specifics about players you might take of the board, but you said “the highest player on our board, beyond the guys with issues.

A: I’m not calling anybody’s name. I said just beyond the guys who had some issues, he was the highest guy on our board. It’s not fair to call anybody’s name.

Q: Because Vernon Hargreaves plays the same position and went one pick later, can you explain to us from a scouting perspective the difference in the two players?

A: We thought (Eli) was a better player, that’s all you need to know. We thought he was a better player. We had him ranked higher, we thought he was a better player. We think Hargreaves is a good player, we thought this guy was a better player.

Q: Prospect-wise, how would this guy compare with Prince Amukamara when Prince came out?

A: Yeah, that’s been so long ago…I’ve looked at hundreds of guys since Prince came out. I don’t know if it’s fair to try to couple him with Prince. We just know that he’s a terrific young player with a huge upside, highest guy on our board, and a need pick. We’re very excited to have him.

Q: No disappointment at all when the Bears jumped ahead of you and took Floyd?

A: No, you don’t get disappointed up here. You just stay with your board and when they come off, they come off. Nobody’s crying in there when somebody gets picked. You know, “Okay, who’s the next best guy available?” We think we got a really good player.

Q: When the Bears traded up, did you assume that that’s who they were going for?

A: Well, you never know. You never know what guys do. People can say, “Yeah, we knew or we thought something was going to happen.” There were some possibilities that it could happen, but it happened and we’re not looking back.

Q: You go through scenarios non-stop in the days leading up to the draft. Is this one that you went through?

A: We try to go through every scenario.

Q: Did you go through this one?

A: Yeah, we try to go through every scenario.

Q: You talked about a need…most of the time there’s only two cornerbacks on the field. Are one of the other two corners possibly a safety—DRC or Jenkins?

A: No. When you have two corners in this league, you’re short one because the offensive teams throw the ball so much and you’ve got to have three quality corners to really get out there and function at a high level, I think. This guy gives us three quality guys that we think we can play with anybody around the league with these three kind of guys.

Q: If teams were willing to deal tonight, perhaps if you got another first round pick, would you entertain the offer?

A: We keep all our options open.

Q: Eli Apple was talked about recently in the last 24-48 hours and referred to by an anonymous scout questioning his life skills. Is that anything that you guys worried about?

A: You hear everything. It’s all people talk about, the draft, it’s a phenomenon now. Half the stuff people we’re talking about, they don’t know what they’re talking about. There’s stuff spewed all over the place. We listen to our scouts, we do the work. Hey, this guy is a good player, he’s clean. We don’t have any issues with him.

Q: Do you care about his cooking?

A: I don’t care about his cooking.

Q: Can you clear up the perception about whether you could have gotten him further down in the round?

A: You can always say that and you’ll say, “We’ll be cute and we’ll move back,” and the next pick is the guy you want. You can always speculate on about where you could have got him. People might say, “Well, they could have moved back later and got him.” Nobody knows that…nobody knows that.

Q: Eli has some great experience on college football’s biggest stage. He was the MVP of the 2016 Fiesta Bowl, he has a Big Ten championship, he has a college football national championship. How much did that play into your decision?

A: All that’s part of the equation, but what he does on the field, how he played, he’s a big time player, big time program. He’s 20, he’s got a huge upside, he was the highest player on our board, it’s a need pick. We’re very happy to have Eli Apple on the New York Giants football team.

MEDIA Q&A WITH VICE PRESIDENT OF PLAYER EVALUATION MARC ROSS: (Video)

Q: Did the draft unfold the way you expected?

A: We plan out scenarios basically the last couple of days leading up to the draft with how we think it will play out and who we’ll be comfortable drafting. It just played out kind of like we thought it would.

Q: What was it about Eli Apple that stuck out to you guys?

A: We like Eli just because he’s the number one corner on our board. The guy is big. He’s fast. He’s athletic. He’s clean off the field. He’s got tremendous upside. He played at a high level on a quality defense with a lot of other playmakers and guys that were going to be drafted. We just felt this guy would come in, and with the cornerback group we have, fit in right away and give you some versatility. It was a need position. It was value and need and it worked out good for us.

Q: Did you think there were going to be a couple of teams that would trade up ahead of you before you picked?

A: We don’t worry about what other people do or think or plan. We do our plan. We do our work. We’ve got great scouts. The coaches are heavily involved. We do a lot of planning. We’re comfortable with how we do it and it’s what we thought would happen.

Q: Were you comfortable sitting at the 10th pick or did you consider trading up?

A: No. We were comfortable sitting right there. That’s part of the thing that gets discussed the last few days. Should we move up? But this guy is here. Should we move down? What happens there? This was a scenario where we were comfortable just sitting right there where we were.

Q: When did Eli first catch your eye?

A: In the fall, when you go to Ohio State, you know you’re coming there for some seniors, but you’re coming for this star-studded class of juniors that they have there that are coming off the board and more to come. You’ve got your eye on them, and then obviously once he declares, then you hit it hard. We’ve got three area guys going to Ohio State. I’ve been there for the Pro Day, Combine, and the whole deal. He’s been vetted thoroughly.

Q: Was there a specific game when you were there that stuck out to you at all?

A: No. Practice was my first exposure to him.

Q: One of the surprises of the draft was Laremy Tunsil sitting at 10. Was his video a factor?

A: We factor everything in.

Q: What about Myles Jack?

A: We factor everything in.

Q: Is Eli a guy that can play in the slot right away or is he an outside guy?

A: No. He can do both. The guy can bend. He’s very flexible. However Spags wants to use those guys, it’s up to him. But I think all three of those guys can give you a little something different. I’m talking about the two starters we have and now Eli. We’ve got some big, athletic, fast guys.

Q: With the way the league is throwing the ball, is it almost a necessity to have three guys who can play corner?

A: For sure. What is it up to, 60% now, that teams are in three wide or more? So your third corner is essentially a starter now and that’s the way you’ve got to look at it. A guy like Eli, with size, is almost more than a third corner. You can use him in different ways.

Q: What do you think when you hear the cooking comment about Eli?

A: It’s ridiculous. You look at players and you scout them for the qualities that are important. Somebody asking about cooking is ridiculous.

Q: If someone sees this as a reach, what would you say?

A: We’ve heard it before. We’ve taken other players that (were called) a reach. Nobody knows. If you get a dime for every expert, I could retire. Come on. Experts? People analyze. People have opinions. What’s it based on? Nobody has seen the tape. Nobody goes to practice. Nobody puts in the work like the scouts do. It’s easy to second-guess and pick and say get everybody’s pick right and tell them what they should do, but you’ve just got to put in the work and trust what you do.

Q: You said you’d use him in different ways. Do you see him at the line of scrimmage?

A: Spags was excited. Our corners coach was excited because he’s got a really good feel for the game. I’m sure in different packages we can move those guys around. This guy, although he’s only played two years, has a really good feel. He’s not raw in terms of his football mind. His film study is excellent as far as analyzing the game on the tape. He studies tons of film. He’s got a smart football mind.

Q: He didn’t have a high interception number the past year. Does that bother you at all and how does that factor in?

A: No. Sometimes stats lie. There’s true stats and when you watch the film, there’s production. So stat production and then real production. If you watch this guy, he can lock people down and they don’t even throw his way. Whereas you have some corners where balls just fall on them and they could be standing there and balls fall on them. The guy that set an NCAA record in interceptions last year went undrafted. We think (Eli’s) production was more so shutting people down as opposed to getting interceptions.

Q: How were his ball skills when you saw him at the combine?

A: Really good.

Q: Was he destined to be here as the other Eli?

A: We’ll see. Hopefully he makes a name for himself. He’s got the perfect name for New York and here.

Q: Was that a factor in picking him?

A: Of course. Just like the cooking was and ironing and laundry.

Q: You joke about that, but how much of a concern is it when you draft a kid who is that young?

A: This guy came from a good family, went to college and we’re asking about cooking. We’re talking about practice… Come on. The guy plays football. He shows up to practice. He goes to class. He’s got great parents and we’re talking about cooking? It’s not a factor at all. It’s that he does things that are football related that work out.

MEDIA Q&A WITH HEAD COACH BEN MCADOO: (Video)

McAdoo: Hope you are all doing well tonight. [It is an] exciting time for us.  [We] drafted a young man, Eli Apple, have a chance to bring him home, exciting time, young player, 20 won’t be 21 until, I think, August 9th. [He is a] combative, physical corner who interviewed great. [He] tackled well on tape. We like his size, we like his length, good ball skills — that showed up, which is something that he is working on, and we are excited to get him in here.

Q: What was the experience like for you watching everything happen in the nine picks before you?

A: That was exciting. I mean it is like anything else, you go through the process, trust your board, you see how things come off and you hope you have somebody sitting up there you like when it comes time to pick, and we obviously did and we are excited we have Eli.

Q: It did not look from an outside perspective that things went according to plan. Is this a scenario you planned for?

A: We planned to pick the highest guy on the board and Eli is a guy who is an outstanding young man, high character, good football player, his best days are ahead of him as a player and we are excited to have him.

Q: When you have a young guy, do you give him a little bit of a longer leash when you coach them up because they may not be as developed as a 22 or 23 year old?

A: He is young but he is mature. He showed that in the interview where he could — he did a great job communicating with us about football, about things that weren’t about football, about his personal life. He did a great job when the film was on. He can jump on the board and communicate that way, so he is a mature young man who comes from an outstanding program that has a lot of great players and he shined there.

Q: His interception total went down this year. Were people staying away from him or what?

A: That is a good question. I think he has some things that he needs to work on. I think he shows that he has the ball skills to do it. It is tough when you are playing press man coverage to intercept the ball if you are playing a man not with vision. When you play with vision, it is a lot easier to intercept the ball than it is when you are playing press man. That is where we like him. When he learns to catch the flash of the ball a little bit better, which he will and he showed he improved on, he will have more opportunities for picks, for sure.

Q: Do you see his skills as somebody who can play in the slot?

A: He can play in a variety of roles for us. We will take a look at him everywhere and we are not going to pencil him into any role right now. We are going to get him in here, get a feel for his skill set — he will be in here for two weeks in phase two after this week. We will get him in the rookie minicamp and he will have an opportunity to get out there versus Frank Air in phase two and work on his skills that way, without anyone across from him, and then we will get a chance to look at him there.

Q: Is he similar to DRC in any way?

A: I think they are a little bit different of a player. He may like to press a little bit more but I think he is a — I’m not going to compare him to anybody at this point but I think he is a young, combative, physical guy. He likes to tackle, he can make plays pressuring off the backside edge to the boundary. He is aggressive in the run game and again, it is hard to find guys of that size, that young, that have his skill set.

Q: You mentioned a few times how well he interviewed. The one anonymous scout stated that his life skills weren’t great. Are you telling us that that was not your experience with him?

A: As far as the life skills, I am not sure what you are referring to. I just know from the interview, I thought he did an outstanding job at the interview. He was very well read, he knew football, he got ball and that was important to us, and he seemed like a high character young man and I’m sure he is and we look forward to getting him in here.

Q: Was there any temptation from you to maybe roll the dice based on how crazy those first nine picks were?

A: No, I think you trust your board and we got exactly what we wanted, where we wanted.

Q: What was your interaction with him during the process? Where did you meet him, where did you talk to him and did you send someone to go work him out at Ohio State?

A: Yeah, we have had plenty of opportunities to look at him. We viewed him in a bunch of different situations and at a bunch of different locations and he made a great impression on us.

Q: You personally met with him multiple times?

A: We had a variety of looks at him at a variety of different locations and he made a great impression.

MEDIA Q&A WITH ELI APPLE:

Q: Did you think the Giants at number 10 could be a possibility?

A: Not really, honestly.  They talked to me one time at the combine, but that was about it. It’s kind of crazy to see myself on the screen (at) like number 10 and all that stuff, but I’m excited.

Q: You’re going to have a chance to work with a great coaching staff here in New York. Who have you talked to so far and how confident are you that you can contribute immediately to this team?

A: I’m very confident. I talked to the defensive coordinator and a couple of the other guys as well on the phone. They’re just very excited to have me come, and I am as well.

Q: How does it feel to be part of something that’s absolutely historic right now going on at Ohio State? So many guys being picked in the first round here…

A: It’s the greatest feeling. Those are guys that you battle with, guys that have just been through so much. So to see us succeed right now and go through all this good stuff is a great celebration.

Q: I know it’s 90 minutes or so from where you grew up, but you’re kind of coming home.

A: I know.

Q: Did you think about that at all?

A: Yeah, that was like the first thing I thought about. When I saw them calling me and it was a New Jersey number, it looked kind of familiar. I didn’t know if I had to pick it up. I was like, “Oh my goodness, this is probably one my friends trying to prank call me.” My mom was like, “Yeah, don’t pick it up.” My coach was like, “What you mean? Pick it up.” So I pick it up and it was one of the Giants coaches and I was very happy.

Q: When you picked it up first were you worried it could still be a prank?

A: Yeah, I was just a little guarded like, “Okay, this better be a coach or something.” I didn’t know who it was, but then it was the dude from the Giants, so I was very happy.

Q: Who was it? Do you remember who it was?

A: I believe it was the head coach, McAdoo.

Q: You said you were surprised…did you ever think you’d go this high?

A: I didn’t know where I was going to go, honestly, you hear a lot of things. My sister was telling my all the different stuff, my parents were telling me all this different stuff…you never know. I was just playing it by ear, just expecting everything.

Q: How do you see yourself fitting in right away with this team and this defense? Have you given yourself an opportunity to look over the depth chart, look at the names, see the guys who are here?

A: Yeah, I got it. It’s DRC, it’s going to be Janoris Jenkins. I’m excited to get with those guys and really get to work and try to build a great secondary and be legendary, that’s the goal.

Q: You had a couple of sort of weird controversial things come up in your pre-draft process back at the Combine and then again yesterday. What was it like to go through that and be at the center of those couple of things?

A: It’s all good. That’s the part of the process, I knew it was going to be crazy. I didn’t think it was going to be like this crazy, but now that it’s over, I’m happy. I can’t wait to start playing football and do something I actually love to do, so I’m excited.

Q: What’d you think of the cooking comment when you first saw it?

A: I just laughed at it…it was something very funny. You don’t think too much of it, it’s just something funny, I guess. It’s whatever.

Q: Do you know where that came from? Did you mention that to anybody in an interview or something?

A: No, I never talked about it. I never talked about it. It’s weird.

Q: You’re from Voorhees…were you an Eagles fan?

A: I was not an Eagles fan, I was kind of a fan of a lot of players. My dad was an Eagles fan, he still is a little bit, but he’s not going to be for too long. I wasn’t really a fan of anybody.

Q: Have you talked to Urban Meyer at all since the selection?

A: Of course. He was showing me good love, he told me he loved me and everything after I got selected. So yeah, he talked to me.

Q: Have you ever played in the slot. If so, how much and when and where?

A: Only when I was tracking the number one receiver. So I played it a couple times, and that’s something I can be comfortable in. As long as I’m out there on the field playing man or playing anything—just playing corner, playing football—I’m cool.

Q: They joked about your name a little bit as being suited for being here, obviously with Eli Manning but also the Big Apple. What are your thoughts about that? I would imagine it would make for some attractive headlines.

A: Yeah, of course. I guess it fit. Changing my name coming out of high school and now being drafted by the New York Giants, going to the Big Apple, it’s definitely going to mean a lot.

Q: The NFC East has a lot of elite receivers—you’ve got Dez Bryant, you’ve got Jason Witten, you’ve got Pierre Garcon, you’ve got Jordan Reed, you’ve got Jordan Matthews. How do you think playing in the Big Ten against some pretty good offenses prepared you for that?

A: That definitely will prepare me a lot, just going against great guys, especially in practice as well, like Michael Thomas. A lot of the guys in the Big Ten, they’re physical and that’s how the receivers in the NFC East are. I think I’ll be ready.

Apr 282016
 
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Dwayne Harris, New York Giants (June 16, 2015)

Dwayne Harris – © USA TODAY Sports Images

NEW YORK GIANTS MINI-CAMP ENDS…
The New York Giants held their third and final practice of their 3-day, voluntary mini-camp on Thursday at Quest Diagnostics Training Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey. However, there was no media access to the practice, Head Coach Ben McAdoo, or the players.

INJURY UPDATE ON WR BEN EDWARDS…
The Bergen Record reports that the injury suffered by wide receiver Ben Edwards during mini-camp drills on Wednesday is not believed to be serious. The paper says Edwards’ injury has been diagnosed as a mild left knee sprain. He is expected to resume offseason workouts.

Edwards was eligible to play in the NFL in 2014, but sat out the year recovering from an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) knee injury. The Giants originally signed Edwards after the 2015 NFL Draft, but waived/injured him in July after he pulled his hamstring during the June mini-camp. The Giants re-signed him to the Practice Squad in November 2015 and then signed Edwards to the 53-man roster in December 2015. He played in the final two games and finished the season with one catch for nine yards.

Edwards lacks ideal size and timed speed, but he is a quick receiver who plays faster than he times. Edwards runs very good routes, adjusts well to the football, and has good hands. He has experience playing in the slot and returning punts.

ARTICLES…

Apr 232016
 
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Victor Cruz, New York Giants (July 22, 2014)

Victor Cruz – © USA TODAY Sports Images

VICTOR CRUZ SAYS HE’S 100 PERCENT…
NJ.com spoke with New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz on Friday. Cruz did not play in any preseason or regular-season games in 2015. Cruz was placed on Injured Reserve in November 2015 due to a left calf injury suffered in August that never healed and required surgery. It was the third leg injury that Cruz has suffered since signing his big 6-year contract in July 2013, including arthroscopic surgery on his left knee in 2013 and career-threatening patellar tendon surgery on his right knee in 2014.

“I’m feeling great,” said Cruz. “Workouts have been going amazing. Each day, it gets better and better. I’m excited to continue to train, continue that pattern, and see where it takes me…I’m 100 percent. I feel good. No injuries, no ailments, nothing hurts, no pain.

“This offseason program is using the OTA days as building blocks. We’re using these days to build up as we go along, and then when I go on my own (in the summer), my personal trainer will have a rapport with the Giants staff in order to keep that building block process going. By training camp, I should be pretty much ready to go.”

GIANTS EXPRESSED INTEREST IN JOSH NORMAN…
National Football Post reported that the New York Giants were one of nine teams that expressed interest in unrestricted free agent cornerback Josh Norman (Carolina Panthers). The Panthers recently removed their Franchise designation from Norman. However, the Washington Redskins signed Norman to a 5-year, $75 million contract on Friday.

ARTICLES…

Apr 212016
 
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Jerry Reese, New York Giants (February 25, 2016)

Jerry Reese – © USA TODAY Sports Images

JERRY REESE’S 2016 PRE-DRAFT PRESS CONFERENCE…
New York Giants General Manager Jerry Reese held his annual pre-draft press conference on Thursday. The following is the transcript from the event (video is also available courtesy of Giants.com):

Opening Statement: Good morning. It’s draft time again. The scouts are (upstairs) working hard on the draft board. Coach (Ben) McAdoo is in there, Marc Ross, Chris Mara and all of our personnel people. It’s an exciting time for us like always and we’re looking forward to next week to try to help our team in the draft. Before you ask the question, we’re open to moving up, we’re open to moving back, and I’ll take any questions.

Q: Last week John (Mara) said that this draft is more important than others have been. Do you share that philosophy?

A: Not for me. All the drafts are important for me. I understand why John would say something like that, but all of the drafts are very important to me and I think all of the drafts are important to John as well. I think when you say something like that, I think it gets taken out of context a little bit, but I understand what he was saying. All of the drafts are important.

Q: You said you were willing to move up and move down. Have you had any offers?

A: I can’t talk about that, but we’re willing to move up or move down.

Q: Do you sense more activity in the draft this year? There already has been three trades in the top 10.

A: Not really. In the draft you never know what’s going to happen. You just try to prepare yourself for everything. There could be a lot of movement. There can be not much more movement. Who knows?

Q: In regards to trades, you’ve traded up more than you’ve traded down since you’ve been General Manager. Is that you’re philosophy?

A: It’s just how it unfolded. The draft changes after every pick. Sometimes you can move up and sometimes you can move back and so it happens we’ve been able to move up a couple of times.

Q: Back at the combine you said you would pick the best available player. Have you stuck to that philosophy?

A: Best player available.

Q: Two of your last three first round picks have been used on offensive linemen. Do you take that into consideration at all of how much of your resources you can put in a short period of time into one specific position group?

A: No. We’re just trying to put the guys up there in the best order that we can and pick the best player available when we pick.

Q: What is your philosophy when you look at rounds three, four and five?

A: It’s the same thing. We put guys in the first row. We put guys in the second row and the third row. When it’s our time to pick, we try to pick the best player in the row. Sometimes we can get two players out of the first row. We like it when we can get two players who we’ve got in the first row. We like it like that. In the first row, all of those guys are not really first round picks because we call them rows.

Q: How much of a difference has it been working with Ben and his staff versus former head coach Tom Coughlin’s staff?

A: Our coaches have always been a part of the process since I’ve been with the New York Giants for 21 years and nothing has changed in respect to that.

Q: After the season you and John Mara said you would study what went right and wrong in past drafts. How extensive was that self-analysis?

A: We looked at a lot of things. I’m not going to sit here and divulge what we talked about and what we discovered and what we looked at, but we worked hard on some things. I know this. I know our scouts work their behinds off. They do all of the work. They’re on the road for almost 200 days out of the year. They do the legwork for us and they do a tremendous job for us.

Q: Did you find anything interesting or things you can tweak moving forward?

A: There’s always things that you find interesting when you do some research and there were some interesting things that we found.

Q: How much does your team’s recent history with injuries affect the way that you evaluate the draft process?

A: I think we’ve had some bad luck with injuries. We had a medical meeting last night and we talked about the guys that are injury risks. We try to minimize our risks, but it’s football. It’s grown men hitting each other with helmets. Guys get injured. It’s a part of the business.

Q: There are some guys in the draft who have had injuries and missed a significant portion of the year. What kind of factors go into assessing that type of player?

A: We listen to our doctors. If our doctors say the risk is too high or reject guys, we don’t take them.

Q: You wouldn’t just drop guys in the round?

A: If the injury is so significant… It’s like school. F is bad and A is good. Anything in between… If it’s a C, there’s some risk. If there’s a D, there is a lot of risk, and if it’s an F, we’re not going to take them. It’s hard for us to take a D. We rarely take a D.

Q: Does it matter where you’re picking? Is it more likely you would take a risk if you were picking at the bottom of the first round?

A: You’re not going to take a risk on your first round pick if your guy is a D. You’re not going to take a risk like that with your first round pick. If you’re in the sixth round and you’ve got an extra pick or if you’re in the seventh round and have an extra pick, you can take more risks in the later rounds because the value is not the same.

Q: What was your impression of the trades that the Rams and Eagles made?

A: What other teams do is not really my business. I’m just worried about the Giants. If they felt like they needed to do that, they did what they had to do. That’s their business.

Q: Does that change your projections of who might be available to you?

A: We always thought that there were a couple of players up top that would push some players down to us and give us more players to pick from.

Q: If you stay at your current position in the draft, will you get a player who can instantly start and can be a contributor?

A: We sure hope so. If you pick inside the first 10, 12 picks, you’d like to get a starter who you can put out there to start to play right away and we sure hope we can get one. We believe we can.

Q: Aside from punters and placekickers, is there any player who you wouldn’t take with the 10th pick because of his position?

A: No.

Q: That includes the quarterback?

A: That includes any position, except punter and kicker.

Q: Do John Mara’s comments put any sense of urgency on this draft?

A: No. I put the urgency on myself. I know I come to work everyday and I work my behind off and that hasn’t changed since day one. I see how hard our personnel people work. The pressure is always there. Nobody puts more pressure on me than me.

Q: Do you take the criticisms of recent drafts personally?

A: You guys have your own opinion on the draft and you get paid to do that. It’s okay with me.

Q: What’s your opinion on recent drafts?

A: We work hard every time we draft and my opinions are my opinions and your opinions are your opinions. I’m not going to get into that.

Q: You have a lot more information at your disposal than we do. So your opinion on how you drafted is probably going to be much more valid than ours.

A: That’s your opinion.

Q: Ben McAdoo has been with the franchise for a couple of years now and has been involved with the draft. Now that he’s the head coach, what would you say is the biggest difference in terms of his involvement in previous drafts and this one?

A: He was the coordinator last year. In this draft, he’s in on all of the meetings. He’s in the defensive players, offensive players and the special teams. He’s in all of the meetings. Last year, he was just in the offensive player meetings. So that in and of itself is different.

Q: Some people have said there is a drop in talent after the 10th pick. Do you agree with that?

A: I think there are good players in all seven rounds.

Q: With what you were able to do in the beginning of free agency, does it become more challenging to not look at the draft and free agency as separate entities as far as building the roster or is it still possible to say it this serves one purpose and the draft serves as another?

A: We’re not oblivious to what we did in free agency, but the draft stands alone. We’re just trying to pick the best players out of this draft when we’re picking.

Q: How important is football character and personal character when you’re looking for guys who can come in and be sound draft picks, but also contribute to a winning and healthy culture?

A: That’s a part of building a football team. You want to get guys who are good team players and who want to be good locker room guys. Not a lot of “me” guys. A bunch of team-oriented players that are big, tough and smart guys who want to play together as a team. You win as a team and if you don’t play as a team, it’s hard to win in this league.

Q: Do you think you have a starting caliber right tackle who you’d be very comfortable with on your roster right now?

A: Sometimes the answer is on your roster. We do have some guys that we like. We’ll see moving forward.

Q: Do you view Bobby Hart as a guard or tackle?

A: I think Bobby has the ability to play guard and tackle.

Q: Are there any players in this draft who are off your board for non-football reasons?

A: Not right now. We’re still in the process and I’m sure there will be some guys that we take off.

Q: You used three high picks on that offensive line the last three years. Is that a position where you will target in this year’s draft?

A: We’re just trying to get good players every time we pick.

Q: Is your objective to leave the draft with players at a certain position?

A: No. We’re looking at it that we need help on offense. We need help on defense. We need help on special teams and we’re trying to get good players in every aspect of those positions. Offense, Defense and Special Teams.

Q: The top two quarterbacks in the draft seem like they’re going to go one and two in the draft. If you’re not looking at a quarterback, does it make it better for you?

A: If two quarterbacks get picked in front of us, that pushes some players down to us. That gives us a better chance to get the player that Kim (Jones) talked about, a player that can come in and impact our team.

Q: Eli Manning is getting up in age. Are you close to the point where you need to start thinking about drafting his replacement?

A: We think Eli has plenty of years left, but we’re always conscious of if there is a player in this draft or previous drafts or a draft coming up that there is a quarterback available because you always want to try to have a quarterback in line ready to go as your quarterback gets older and is on the backside of his career. You’re always conscious of that.

Q: How do you assess your running backs?

A: We think all of those guys are good enough to play in the league. All of these guys are pros. I think we have five guys that can play in this league.

Q: Josh Norman is a free agent. Is there any interest there?

A: We investigate everything.

Q: How surprised were you to see he became a free agent?

A: Nothing surprises me in this business.

Q: Are you basically finished with free agent signings?

A: There are still some free agents out there. Free agency really never stops. It’s the way we’re wired. Everyday there are guys on the waiver wire, but there’s a few more veterans out there that are still waiting around and we’re still taking a look at that we can do something.

Q: Will money play a factor?

A: Money always plays a factor.

Q: We haven’t had a chance to talk to you since free agency started. What was it about those three guys that made you go out and get them?

A: Those guys were really good players. We had them high on our free agent board. We had some money this time. We felt like we had a chance to go out and get some guys with the caliber of the players that we got. We went for them and we were fortunate enough to get some of the guys that we targeted.

Q: How important was it to you to bring back Jason Pierre-Paul for another season?

A: Jason is a terrific football player and we’re hoping that the procedure that he had on his hand after the season will continue to feel better for him and he will be able to play with that hand in the condition that it is and we expect him to do that. I said at the (combine) that it was kind of a miracle for me that he played last year. He’ll be that much better now, we think.

Q: Do you think you have a starting free safety on your roster right now with all of those young guys you brought in recently?

A: We have some guys. We’ll see. In every position somebody has got to be developed and at some point we hope that one of those young safeties can step up. There are a few more guys out there in free agency that we’ll take a look at, but we’re hoping that some of those young guys can step up and play a role here.

Q: Where do you stand at linebacker?

A: We’re still going to upgrade every position. Linebacker, safety, corner, defensive line, offensive line, tight end, receiver, running back and quarterback. All of them. If I left out something, those guys, too.

Q: How is Victor Cruz doing?

A: So far so good. He’s been out there. I’ve been peeking out the window and watching him run outside. We had our medical meetings last night and all of our doctors are pleased with his progress so far and we’re hoping that he’ll be the Victor that we know.

Q: What’s the plan with Victor Cruz moving into the summer?

A: We’re going to take it easy with him and make sure that he’s ramped up a little bit at a time and when training camp comes around, we’re hoping that he’s a full go. We’re expecting him to be full go.

Q: Last year at this time you weren’t counting on Cruz. Is that different this time?

A: He hasn’t played in two years. But he’s probably more healthy now than he’s probably been in the last couple of years. What we get from Victor will be a bonus and we’re hoping it’s a great bonus for us.

Q: How much does age play a factor for you guys in the draft?

A: We’re conscious of players’ ages, but how many players have played over four, five, six years? Age is not a huge factor. We don’t want to draft a 30-year-old in this draft, but I don’t think there are any 30-year-olds in this draft. We do look at what the age is.

Q: In spite of all you did in free agency, how much do you need the guys from the last couple of drafts to step up and become what you expected them to be?

A: We always expect those guys. You’ve got to develop players. In the last few drafts that we’ve had, we expect players to step up and continue to develop and be a core part of our football team.

NEW YORK GIANTS PLAYER MEDIA SESSIONS…
Transcripts and video of Thursday’s media sessions with the following New Giants players are available in The Corner Forum and at Giants.com:

GIANTS.COM INTERVIEW WITH JOSH BROWN…
The video of an exclusive interview with New York Giants place kicker Josh Brown is available at Giants.com.

ARTICLES…

Apr 192016
 
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Larry Donnell, New York Giants (December 28, 2014)

Larry Donnell – © USA TODAY Sports Images

LARRY DONNELL SIGNS HIS RESTRICTED FREE AGENT TENDER…
The New York Giants have officially announced that restricted free agent tight end Larry Donnell has signed his 1-year, $1.671 million free agent tender. Donnell also received medical clearance from team doctors on his neck, which he injured last season and caused him to be placed on Injured Reserve.

After a breakout season in 2014, Donnell had a disappointing 2015 campaign as his production dropped from 63 catches for 623 yards and six touchdowns to 29 catches for 223 yards and two touchdowns. He started all eight games in which he played in 2015.

Donnell originally went undrafted and unsigned in 2011. The Giants signed him as a street free agent in March 2012 and Donnell spent the 2012 season on the team’s Practice Squad. Donnell made the 53-man roster in 2013 and was active for all 16 games, starting one contest, but he only caught three passes for 31 yards.

Donnell is a big, athletic target. A former collegiate quarterback and a very raw player when he came to the Giants, Donnell is still a work in progress. As a receiver, Donnell has a good catch radius, adjusts well to the football, and is capable of making the circus catch. He needs to do a better job of holding onto the football (four fumbles in 2014) and gaining yards after the catch, where he often looks clumsy. While Donnell gives a good effort, he still has a lot of work to do to improve as a blocker.

ARTICLES…

Apr 182016
 
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Josh Brown, New York Giants (December 7, 2014)

Josh Brown – © USA TODAY Sports Images

NEW YORK GIANTS RE-SIGN KICKER JOSH BROWN…
The New York Giants have officially re-signed unrestricted free agent place kicker Josh Brown. The contract is reportedly a 2-year, $4 million deal.

“This is right where I wanted to be, this is the team I wanted to continue to play for,” said Brown. “I love the organization, and would enjoy playing here for the duration until I’m done…It worked out for both sides…I’m comfortable here, I kick well here.”

Brown’s two best seasons have come with the Giants past the age of 35. Brown made 30-of-32 field goal attempts in 2015, a franchise-record 93.8 percent success rate, and topping his own record of 92.3 percent (24-of-26) in 2014. He has also hit long field goals of 53 yards in both seasons. In just three seasons, Brown has scored 350 points, ninth best in franchise history. The only downside is that two of Brown’s misses were factors in late-game losses. In the past two years, over 61 percent of his kickoffs have resulted in touchbacks.

Brown was originally drafted in the 7th round of the 2003 NFL Draft by the Seattle Seahawks. Before coming to the Giants as a free agent in 2013, he kicked for the Seahawks (2003-07), St. Louis Rams (2009-11), and Cincinnati Bengals (2012). He made the Pro Bowl as an alternate after the 2015 campaign.

The Giants are currently carrying two place kickers on the roster, Brown and Tom Obarski.

INSIDE THE GIANTS NEW STRENGTH & CONDITIONING PROGRAM…
A video overview of the New York Giants new strength and conditioning program is available at Giants.com.

ARTICLES…

Apr 142016
 
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Brad Wing, New York Giants (October 4, 2015)

Brad Wing – © USA TODAY Sports Images

NEW YORK GIANTS 2016 SCHEDULE RELEASED…
The New York Giants 2016 regular-season schedule has been released. The schedule includes five prime time games: two Monday nights (at Minnesota, home vs. Cincinnati), two Sunday nights (at Green Bay, home against Dallas), and a late-season Thursday night game in Philadelphia. It is the fourth time in five seasons the Giants will open against the Cowboys.

The Giants will play six games against 2015 playoff teams: Washington (2), Minnesota, Green Bay, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh.

  • Week 1: Sunday, Sept. 11 – at Dallas Cowboys, 4:25 p.m.
  • Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 18 – vs. New Orleans Saints, 1:00 p.m.
  • Week 3: Sunday, Sept. 25 – vs. Washington Redskins, 1:00 p.m.
  • Week 4: Monday, Oct. 3 – at Minnesota Vikings, 8:30 p.m.
  • Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 9 – at Green Bay Packers, 8:30 p.m.*
  • Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 16 – vs. Baltimore Ravens, 1:00 p.m.*
  • Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 23 – at Los Angeles Rams (London), 9:30 a.m.
  • Week 8: BYE WEEK
  • Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 6 – vs. Philadelphia Eagles, 1:00 p.m.*
  • Week 10: Monday, Nov. 14 – vs. Cincinnati Bengals, 8:30 p.m.
  • Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 20 – vs. Chicago Bears, 1:00 p.m.*
  • Week 12: Sunday, Nov. 27 – at Cleveland Browns, 1:00 p.m.*
  • Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 4 – at Pittsburgh Steelers, 4:25 p.m.*
  • Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 11 – vs. Dallas Cowboys, 8:30 p.m.*
  • Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 18 – vs. Detroit Lions, 1:00 p.m.*
  • Week 16: Thursday, Dec. 22 – at Philadelphia Eagles, 8:25 p.m.
  • Week 17: Sunday, Jan. 1 – at Washington Redskins, 1:00 p.m.*

* Subject to flexible scheduling.

“It’s an exciting time in the offseason with the schedule being released,” said Head Coach Ben McAdoo. “We’re certainly going to take them one at a time. But playing the AFC North and the NFC North, two divisions that are very competitive, not to mention the NFC East, will be a huge challenge for us.

“It’s a great opportunity opening the season at Dallas. All of us in the building are looking forward to it.

“The bye comes at a perfect time, around the mid-point of the season, and after a trip to London, – which is a tremendous opportunity, and exciting for us. It’s good for the league, and it’s good for the Giants and the Rams to play overseas. The bye coming right after it, followed by three home games vs. three good opponents in a row will be exciting for us, especially with the Monday night game against Cincinnati.”

BRAD WING SIGNS EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS TENDER…
New York Giants punter Brad Wing has signed his 1-year exclusive rights free agent tender.

The Giants acquired Wing from the Pittsburgh Steelers by trade for a conditional 7th-round draft pick in September 2015, replacing the popular-but-declining Steve Weatherford. Wing responded with a strong season, averaging 44.5 yards per punt (38.9 net). He had 33 kicks downed inside the 20-yard line, tying a team single-season record.

An Australian, the left-footed Wing was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Philadelphia Eagles after the 2013 NFL Draft. He did not make the team but he made the Steelers roster in 2014. Wing combines a strong leg with good directional placement skills. He also holds for both field goals and place kicks.

All of the team’s exclusive rights free agents are now signed. Tight end Larry Donnell is the only unsigned restricted free agent.

JOHN MARA SAYS IT’S TIME TO PICK IT UP…
New York Giants President and CEO John Mara spoke briefly with reporters on Wednesday.

“Every draft is important, but I would say this one moreso than usual,” Mara said. “Because we’re picking so high, and because we’re coming off of three-and-a-half losing years. It’s time to pick it up. We spent all this money in free agency, I think we got better, but we’re still not there. We need some impact players coming out of this draft.”

Speaking about the upcoming NFL Draft (April 28-30), Mara said, “If the coach and GM agree on the pick, chances are I’m not going to have anything to say about it. If there seems to be some disagreement in the room, maybe with some scouts or whomever, then that might be something I want to (get involved with). But a lot of times, they work those things ahead of time.”

GIANTS.COM INTERVIEW WITH JOHNATHAN HANKINS…
The video of an exclusive interview with New York Giants defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins is available at Giants.com.

ARTICLES…

Apr 122016
 
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Orleans Darkwa, New York Giants (November 8, 2015)

Orleans Darkwa – © USA TODAY Sports Images

ORLEANS DARKWA SIGNS EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS TENDER…
New York Giants running back Orleans Darkwa has signed his 1-year exclusive rights free agent tender.

Darkwa was the #4 running back on the Giants in 2015. He played in all 16 games with no starts and finished the season with 36 carries for 153 yards (4.3 yards per carry) and one touchdown.

Darkwa was originally signed by the Miami Dolphins as a rookie free agent after the 2014 NFL Draft. He played in four games in September before being waived in October and signed to the team’s Practice Squad. The Giants signed him off of Miami’s Practice Squad in November 2014.

Punter Brad Wing is the only unsigned exclusive rights free agent. Tight end Larry Donnell is the only unsigned restricted free agent.

NICO JOHNSON CUT AFTER FAILING PHYSICAL…
New York Giants linebacker Nico Johnson has been waived after failing his physical.

The Giants signed Johnson to the Practice Squad in November 2015 and the 53-man roster in late December. Johnson was originally drafted in the 4th round of the 2013 NFL Draft by the Kansas City Chiefs. Since then, he has spent time with the Chiefs (2013-14), Bengals (2014-15), and Redskins (2015). Johnson has played in 18 regular-season games with three starts, accruing 22 tackles.

GIANTS.COM INTERVIEW WITH SHANE VEREEN…
The video of an exclusive interview with New York Giants running back Shane Vereen is available at Giants.com.

ARTICLES…